תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes : his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.",

We noticed, too, the vineyards walled round with stones, collected from within the enclosure, each with its wine-fat and a tower, constructed, like the fences, with stones and masses of rock which would otherwise have marred the soil ; and the words of Isaiah found an exact illustration, “My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill : and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein.". The parable spoken by

[graphic][merged small]

our Lord was, at the same time, vividly illustrated. “There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower.'

The grapes are either eaten fresh, or dried into raisins, or boiled down into grape-honey (dibs), or made into wine. Of course the Mohammedans leave the production and consumption of the latter to the Jewish and Christian residents, its use being forbidden by the Koran. I found the wine of Hebron strong, but very sweet, being loaded with grape-honey, and apparently flavoured

3 Matt. xxi. 33. Mark xii. 1. Luke xx. 9.

1

Gen. xlix. II, 12.

2 Isa. v. I, 2.

HEBRON.

with spices, tasting much like the elderberry wine which is made in country districts in England.

The first view of Hebron is very striking. It is picturesquely situated among groves of olives, on the slope of a hill at the southern end of the valley of Eshcol. Solidly built with blocks of grey weather-beaten stone, it has an appearance of great antiquity, as befits a city reared "seven years before Zoan in Egypt.": Zoan has disappeared, but Hebron still stands, with a history which goes back for more than three thousand years. The ancient names of the city—“Kirjath-Arba, the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron," are no longer used. But its modern name is strangely impressive and affecting. It is now known as El-Khulil, that is, The Friend, leading the mind back to the title given to the illustrious patriarch by God Himself, “Abraham, My friend.”3 It is by this name that he is always known throughout the Mohammedan world; and the epithet has passed over from the patriarch himself to the city with which he was so intimately associated.

Very early in the life of Abraham we find him encamped "in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and he built there an altar unto the Lord.”+ He and his nephew Lot had parted. Lot had chosen the well-watered and luxuriant plain of the Jordan, which lies just across the range of hills on the western slope of which Hebron stands; and Abraham had remained on the elevated plateau, which was henceforth to be inseparably associated with himself and his descendants.

It was whilst encamped at Mamre that he received tidings of the disaster which had fallen upon his nephew. Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, with his allies, had attacked and sacked the cities of the plain, had carried away Lot as captive, and, laden with spoil, was returning to his own country. Abraham at once collected his clan, "born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan,"5 the extreme northern city of Palestine. A

? Joshua xxi. 11.

2 Chron. xx. 7. Isa. xli. 8. James ii. 23.

[graphic]

HEBRON, FROM THE NORTH-EAST.

i Num. xiii. 22.

3

4 Gen, xiii. 18.

5 Ibid. xiv. 14.

by the fact that these ancient records still afford invaluable aid in settling the topography of Palestine. At Kirjath-Jearim the Ark rested for twenty years

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

after being recovered from the hands of the Philistines and before its removal to Jerusalem by David. It was in this “city of forests ” that the royal psalmist found it in “the fields of the wood” and brought it with songs of praise to

L'ALLEY OF ELAH AND EMMAUS.

the place he had prepared for its reception.' It was very interesting to read the narrative of the bringing hither of the Ark and compare it with the surrounding scenery. " And the men of Kirjath-Jearim came, and fetched up the Ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill.The village stands on the slope of a hill trending down towards Ain-Shems, the ancient Beth-Shemesh. A hill rises above the town, and the ruins of an ancient church which stands on its summit may not improbably mark the site of “the house of Abinadab.”

Shortly after leaving Abu-Gosh we descend into a broad deep valley,

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the Wady es-Sumt, enclosed by rounded hills, terraced and covered with olives to the very summit. A brook, swollen by winter rains into a torrent, brawls over a bed of pebbles brought down by it from the rocks above. It is the VALLEY OF Elai, along which the hosts of the Amorites fled after their defeat at Beth-horon, and where the ruddy stripling from Bethlehem confronted and slew the giant of Gath. The hills curve round, forming an amphitheatre, in which as “the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, and there was a

Ti Sam. vi 21 ; vii. 1, 2.

i Chron. xiii. 5. Psalm cxxxii. 6.

? 1 Sam. xvii.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

valley between them,” the hostile armies would be able to watch the combat between their chosen champions. Bethlehem is only about ten miles distant, and the young shepherd boy, who “rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper,” could easily reach the spot in time to see “the battle set in array,” and hear the defiant challenge of the Philistine. Shocoh is represented by the village of Shuweikeh ; Azekah is probably the modern Tell Zakariya ; and Gath lies at no great distance on the way down to Ekron. David returning to Bethlehem by the main road, would pass through or near Jerusalem, at that time in the hands of the Jebusites : hence the statement which has caused some perplexity to commentators, that “he took the head of the Philistine and brought it” thither.

Leaving the Valley of Elah on the way to Jerusalem the eye is arrested by a white-walled village standing on the slope of the hill, a little way off the road, but visible from it. Travellers going thither from Jerusalem must turn aside as “they draw nigh unto it ; others “who would go farther, continue along the road, leaving it on the right. It is now called Kulon or Kulônia, and at least a probable conjecture regards it as Emmaus.' Though there is no direct evidence of the fact, yet it fulfils all the requirements of the narrative, which, as we have seen, the traditional site fails to do. We know from Josephus that there was an Emmaus in this neighbourhood, and that a Roman garrison was stationed there. The modern name of Kulônia may not improbably represent the Colonia, or Roman settlement. Assuming the identification to be correct, we now, for the first time, find ourselves in the actual footsteps of Him whose “name is above every name." Tender, sacred, sublime, as are all the associations of the Holy Land, they must yield to thoughts of Him who was David's son and yet his Lord ; who was of the seed of Abraham, and yet could say, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

About seven miles, “sixty furlongs,” from Kulônia we reach the summit of a broad plateau. Turning a corner of the road, a huge Russian monastery and church, with several smaller buildings, all new, crude and raw in colour, obstruct the view in front. On the right is a ravine, beyond which a series of barren wind-swept hills stretch to the horizon. Just behind the monastery is a Turkish barrack, and then a line of dim walls. There is nothing imposing or impressive in the sight, and yet every traveller halts; even the most frivolous are awed into silence. Not a few gaze with tears upon the scene. It is JERUSALEM! The moment when its sombre turreted walls, minarets, and domes break for the first time

upon the eye is one never to be forgotten. The dream, the hope of a lifetime has been fulfilled. The one thought, “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem,” swallows up every other. I was not surprised; I was not disappointed. The outward features of the landscape were scarcely seen. The present was lost sight of and forgotten in the memories of the past. This

grey venerable

1 Luke xxiv. 13-35.

« הקודםהמשך »